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Meeting with German FM, Netanyahu raps new EU rules

Prime minister says Europe’s settlement ban undermines peace; Livni, Peres also criticize new directive

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem, on August 12, 2013. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon / GPO / Flash90)
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem, on August 12, 2013. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon / GPO / Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the European Union’s new anti-settlement directives Monday in a meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who was on an official visit to Israel.

“Germany is a friend of Israel,” said Netanyahu. “We both want the same thing — to achieve peace. We’re committed to peace and we’re working for peace. I have to say, on a sad note, that I think Europe — the European guidelines by the EU — have actually undermined peace.”

“They’ve hardened Palestinian positions, they seek an unrealistic end that everybody knows is not going to happen, and I think they stand in the way of reaching a solution which will only be reached by negotiations by the parties, and not by an external diktat,” the prime minister continued.

Westerwelle did not address Netanyahu’s statement directly, instead offering his support for this week’s negotiations with the Palestinians. “So let me just wish you the very best, personally and of course for the upcoming direct talks,” he said. “We encourage everyone to stay on this track. We will support you.”

The new directives, to take effect at the start of 2014, require the EU and its members to cease any joint activity with — or funding of — Israeli entities working in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.

The measures also require any future agreements between Israel and the EU to include a clause in which Israel accepts the European Union’s position that all territory over the Green Line does not belong to Israel — a requirement that is anathema to Israel.

Westerwelle also met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Monday. Abbas decried Israel’s plan to build more housing units in the West Bank, calling it “illegal and disgraceful.”

The day before, President Shimon Peres met with the German foreign minister and called on the EU to halt the implementation of the measures, saying that when the future borders are determined between Israel and a Palestinian state, the issue of settlements will be solved.

“I recommend freezing this resolution at this time,” Peres told Westerwelle. The EU resolution “addresses the question of borders and the differences between the West Bank and Israel, but if we reach an agreement this question will be meaningless,” said the president.

Peres added that, for the first time, the Arab world was showing its support for peace and that “Israel was united” around the need for a two-state solution.

Westerwelle said there was “no change” in the EU approach toward cooperation with Israel, and that it would continue to strengthen the ties between them.

Tzipi Livni holds a joint press conference with Guido Westerwelle at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on August 11, 2013 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Tzipi Livni holds a joint press conference with Guido Westerwelle at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on August 11, 2013. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Earlier Sunday, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said the borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state will be determined by the two sides, and not by the European Union.

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